UAAP: Coach sees bright future for Ateneo women as intact cast returns for Season 86

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2022 11:44 PM

Ateneo center Kacey dela Rosa (28). UAAP Media.
Ateneo center Kacey dela Rosa (28). UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- The Ateneo Blue Eagles are "just starting" after an impressive campaign in the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball tournament where they made the Final 4.

This, according to head coach LA Mumar who steered the Blue Eagles to their first semifinal appearance since 2015. 

It was a quick Final 4 trip for Ateneo: they were dismissed by defending champion National University, 83-64, last November 30. They stayed competitive for three quarters against the Lady Bulldogs, but ultimately ran out of firepower.

But Mumar says it is still mission accomplished for the Blue Eagles this year, and believes this sets the stage for a better performance in Season 86.

"We have everybody back next year and we're also expecting some other people to kinda help us with our recruitment no? Very excited because buo kami next year, as in, walang gagraduate samin," he said.

"We have a complete team next year, so I'm very, very excited," he added.

Set to return for her last season is versatile guard Jhazmin Joson, who earned Mythical Team honors this year after putting up 11.21 points, 7.0 assists, 6.79 rebounds, and 1.86 steals per game. Mumar expects an even better campaign from star center Kacey dela Rosa, who will be the Rookie of the Year after averaging a double-double of 16.42 points and 14.08 rebounds on top of 3.08 blocks per game.

"Kacey's in her freshman year, I think she's gonna make the Mythical Five. Tapos si Jhaz also, I think she's also gonna make it," the Ateneo coach said. 

Mumar has dubbed his prolific duo the "Shaq and Kobe" of the Blue Eagles, but he also believes that players like Sarah Makanjuola, Junize Calago, and Sandra Villacruz will make a leap in Season 86. 

"We have the pillars for the foundation," said Mumar. "We have to slowly build, and a lot of it is also recruiting, everybody knows that. We got some people lined up, and hopefully, with our current crop of players, the experience will only make us better." 

Joson is already looking forward to how her teammates will perform next year, with one season of UAAP basketball under their belts.

"It's a young team so I didn't really expect them to have that kind of mentality as what I have because I have more experience," she said. 

"But I am very excited for next year because I know that these girls are way better than how they are now," said Joson. "We're just gonna have to keep working, and learn from our mistakes."


UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.